AKWESASNE – The Tribal Referendum to change the Tribe’s name has been rescheduled for a vote by tribal members on Saturday, Ohiarí:ha/June 4, 2022.
Eligible tribal voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject a proposed name change of the “Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe” to the “Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe”.
Pursuant to Tribal Council Resolution 2022-16 signed by Tribal Council during their biweekly work session on Wednesday, March 30th; the referendum has been scheduled once more and tribal members will be presented with the following question on June 4th: “Do you support the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe changing its name to the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe?” Yes or No.
What began nearly 20 years ago with the formal renaming of the zip code 13655 from “Hogansburg, NY” to “Akwesasne, NY” is a renewed effort to have a new name approved by tribal members that better reflects the community’s pride in the rich historical, cultural, and diverse landscape of Akwesasne that has existed since time immemorial.
At the May 2019 and August 2019 Monthly Tribal Meetings presentations were provided on “Saint Regis” and “Akwesasne.” In addition to the informative and historical presentations, two articles by SRMT Tribal Historical Preservation Director Darren Bonaparte were published in the Indian Time Newspaper, titled “Is it Time to Change the Name of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe?” and “The Kanienkeha name of Akwesasne in the Early Historical Record.”
The Tribal Council followed the presentations with two opinion polls to determine support for a name change and for suggestions for a new name. The first poll was conducted in September 2019 and received 549 votes. 61 percent of community members who responded supported an initiative to formally change the name. 15 unique names were suggested and the top names were shared with community members in a second opinion poll in December 2019. The top suggestion was “Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe.”
The proposed name change was initially scheduled for a tribal vote during the 2020 Tribal Election. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic however, holding public meetings to discuss the initiative was not advisable at that time. It was subsequently rescheduled for November 14, 2020; but due to the large number of coronavirus cases it was further postponed, as Tribal Council wanted to ensure the referendum vote was conducted safely and with the largest participation of tribal members in the voting process.
Prior to the subsequent postponement, three (3) public meetings were conducted to present the referendum question, share background information, and to respond to member’s questions on the proposed initiative on September 30th, October 14th, and October 28, 2020. These meetings were recorded and remain available to view on the Tribal Members Portal; along with opinion poll results, articles, and answers to frequently asked questions.
In advance of the June 4 tribal referendum vote, an additional public meeting will be held via Zoom on April 13 at 5:00 p.m. to present the question and respond to comments. The link to join the public meeting will be made available on the Tribal Members Portal and can be accessed from the Tribe’s website at www.srmt-nsn.gov.